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Cottonwood Shores lines up money to finish water, wastewater work

Noah Thompson Park in Cottonwood Shores

The cul-de-sac at Noah Thompson Park in Cottonwood Shores will be paved soon with the help of Burnet County road crews, just one of many city improvements approved by the City Council at a regular meeting Feb. 17. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

City improvements dominated the agenda of the Cottonwood Shores City Council meeting Thursday, Feb. 17, with water and wastewater updates topping the list. 

When that work is completed, which should happen by October, the city plans to turn its resources and attention to street repairs, promised City Administrator J.C. Hughes.

The council took a step toward making all of that happen by adopting a resolution to publicize notices to obtain certificates of obligation not to exceed $1 million for a new lift station, generators in city-owned facilities, and road improvements. The certificates will be closer to $525,000 once they’re issued and are needed to cover a shortfall of money, Hughes said.

“Interest rates are at an all-time low,” he said. “These are historic lows we may not see again in our lifetime, and it’s a cheaper cost to taxpayers in the long run.” 

The lift station will cost $503,150 to purchase and install, exceeding the available funds of $239,000. The improvements to the water and wastewater lines will cost $1.1 million, which comes from the $1.5 million certificates of obligation that were obtained in fall 2020

Work will begin on the projects in the next few weeks. The council approved the contracts to M&C Fonseca Construction of Granite Shoals, the lowest bidder. 

Leaders plan to use $304,000 awarded to the city from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for generators at the raw water plant and lift station No 5. The city has received half of the money and awaits the other half, expected this summer.

Those items total more than the ARP money will cover, leaving a $66,000 deficit. Generators are still needed for the new water intake line in Lake LBJ, lift stations Nos. 1 and 2, the police station, and City Hall, totaling $220,000. 

City Hall also needs new software that can be used by all departments. The old software makes it difficult for staff to complete work in a timely fashion, Mayor Don Orr said. Also, the company that created the old software recently sold, leaving staff without the customer service needed to operate efficiently. The council approved a software contract of $50,000 with a new company out of Dallas, which will be covered by the new certificates of obligation. 

Those certificates of obligation also will cover $81,112 for generator contingencies and road repairs. The remaining $25,000 will go to Government Capital Securities, the company hired to publicize the city’s intentions to obtain the certificates and help it get them, Hughes said. 

During the discussion, Orr presented figures projecting how much money in property and sales taxes the city expects to collect in the future. He projected $175,070 would be collected in 2023, $141,267 in 2024, and $165,049 in 2025. That does not include sales taxes from NXTLVL and TXB Cottonwood Shores, two new businesses in the city. Both Orr and Hughes noted the mayor’s projections are highly conservative, meaning they believe the city will collect more than the figures project. City reserve funds are over $540,000.

“Our balance sheets are beginning to look good,” Orr said. “I fought to make sure we have long-term reserves. I believe it’s better to borrow the money rather than rob that reserve. It’s my true opinion that we can afford to do this, and we should do this. We really looked at it hard from top to bottom. I hope you’ll go along with it.”

The council did, while also voting to honor a portion of the Waste Management trash collection contract that calls for a rate increase because of changing costs in diesel and inflation. The increase will be passed on to residents, which will be reflected in water bills in the spring. 

“All cities (doing business with trash companies) have it in contracts,” Hughes said. “It’s an adjustment.”

The council also voted to spend $10,000 to put 4-foot-by-6-foot culverts and asphalt on a cul-de-sac at Noah Thompson Park. A Burnet County road crew will help with the labor.